Brokers too often steer investors into poorly performing, high-cost investments that are profitable for the broker, but bad for individual investors. The Securities and Exchange Commission has proposed a new regulation that purports to address the problem, but its remedy is too vague and too weak. By creating a veneer of protection, but not the reality, it would deliver a false sense of security that could leave investors worse off than they are now.
The rule’s most significant failing is that it does not establish a clear uniform best interest standard, one that is no less stringent than that found in the Investment Advisers’ Act, for all professionals who provide investment advice to retail clients. Instead, it adopts a weaker standard for broker-dealers that falls short of a true best interest standard and does not adequately address the conflicts of interest that too often are permitted to taint broker-dealers’ recommendations.
The Department of Labor should simply let the fiduciary rule, as written, take full effect. The effort to delay is nothing but an effort to buy time for creating a rationale to roll back the rule, and an abuse of a regulatory process set down in law. Enough.
Financial advisers now owe their clients a duty to put their interests first when giving retirement advice. This change is a huge victory for ordinary Americans investing for a secure retirement, one that will put billions of dollars back in their pockets.
From a statement by the Save our Retirement Coalition: “Retirement savers need an enforceable fiduciary standard and a Department of Labor that is prepared to hold firms accountable for compliance. Until the full complement of rule requirements takes effect, their hard earned savings will continue to be at risk as a result of conflicted advice from financial professionals who put their own financial interests ahead of their customers’ best interests. Yesterday’s decision was an important step forward, but there is still a long road ahead.”
In the face of supporting evidence described above, in addition to harming retirement savers, the Department would be exposing itself to significant legal risk to change course and further delay the Rule now.
“Faced with the prospect that millions of Americans will run out of money in retirement and become a burden on government, the U.S. government took action last year to try to take some confusion out of the advice business. The Department of Labor is imposing what’s known as the ‘fiduciary rule’ to improve the chances that when an adviser gives money advice it’s actually untainted advice — best for you, and not a disguised sales pitch.”